Somewhere around 6th grade, my entire class had to memorize the poem "Attitude" by Charles Swindoll. It goes like this:
The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.
Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home.
The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.
And so it is with you... we are in charge of our attitudes
For some reason it really stuck with me, and every time someone I knew was going through I rough patch, I would send it to them, pointing out in particular the line " I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it".
Looking back I am sure they all wanted to give me a good slap for doing it.
Because, even though I still agree with a majority of the poem, there are some things in life that are not meant to be handled with a good attitude. I have been more at peace since I realized that in no way shape or form should I expect myself to feel good about what happened to Rip and to us. It is one of those life-changing traumatic events that, as long as I am still putting one foot in front of the other, I am doing the best I can.
I think the hard part is knowing how to separate those few events in life that should not be expected to be met with a smile from those every day nuisances that can seem huge after a major loss.
For instance, this morning I was really, really looking forward to some cereal...I was all ready to take my first bite when I spilled the whole thing. The absolute despair I felt afterwards was probably overkill. Everyone spills cereal. Thankfully, most of life's ups and downs, in the end, amount to a cup of spilled cereal.
So, it's still a choice. Nobody should be expected to react to the very worst with good cheer, but there is no use crying over spilled cereal. As old Charles says, "we are in charge of our attitudes".